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Japan: Kishida Cabinet Loses 3rd Minister in Under a Month

    Japan: Kishida Cabinet Loses 3rd Minister in Under a Month
    Last updated: 1 week ago
    Image credit: Reuters

    Facts

    • Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday night accepted the resignation of his ally and former internal affairs minister Minoru Terada, who has been caught up in funding-related scandals. He's the third Cabinet member to leave in less than a month. [1]
    • This comes as attacks against Terada have escalated in recent weeks over alleged irregularities, including misuse of political funds and erroneous funding reports submitted by his support groups. [2]
    • The two other ministers to resign were former Economic Revitalization Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, following reports about his alleged ties to the Unification Church, and former Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi, who faced criticism following a remark about approving capital punishment. [3]
    • On Monday, PM Kishida appointed former Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto to replace Terada and stated that the government "will do its best" to approve important bills, including one for the second supplementary budget for the 2022 fiscal year, during the ongoing parliamentary session ending Dec. 10. [4]
    • Though Kishida was expected to enjoy a "golden three years" after an electoral victory in July, his approval ratings have plunged since deep and enduring ties between the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) and the Unification Church — a group critics consider a cult — were revealed following former PM Shinzo Abe's assassination. [5]
    • ANN news outlet published a poll on Monday indicating that only 30.5% of respondents support Kishida's cabinet — the lowest figure for his administration so far — while disapproval grew up to almost 45%. [6]
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    Spin

    Narrative A

    While the Kishida admin. has seen its political capital shrinking and has been heavily criticized for failing to quickly respond to personnel crises involving ministers, LDP intraparty disputes also play a significant role in this indecisiveness. As no faction has a strong grip on power and Kishida leads the smallest one, other leaders must be consulted before any decision is taken. His hands are tied.

    Narrative B

    Kishida is at a crossroads now, and internal opposition within the LDP could emerge if his low approval ratings are considered a threat to the party in local assembly elections next year. A Cabinet reshuffle — which some speculate is likely — would only escalate the conflicts without guaranteeing a boost in his popularity, but dissolving the lower house — a move that could restore his authority — may be too risky.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the LDP will lose its status as the largest party in the House of Representatives of Japan by Nov. 2043, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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